First is a copy of a letter in word format that was sent to Congressman Cantor. Following this is a copy of a letter he sent back to me.
Letter to Congressman Cantor
August 20, 2001
60 Laing Road
Front Royal, VA 22630
Congressman Eric Cantor
P.O. Box 28537
Richmond, VA 23228
Dear Congressman Cantor:
Attention: Susan Barney
I am writing in regards to issues related to my ancestry and the treatment of their artifacts and cemeteries, and the dehumanized way in which they have been portrayed over the years.
I am a descendent of the Blue Ridge Mountains (What is now the Shenandoah National Park) and a member, and the Web Page Designer of the Children of the Shenandoah. Our web site is a work in progress and is: http://www.usgennet.org/usa/va/shenan/. There, under media coverage you can see the many newspaper articles, which have been written over the years.
I have recently written the superintendent regarding # 1 below:
1) 2 Cemeteries at SNP, namely the "Atkins Cemetery" above
Beech Springs Church in Sperryville and "Dodson/Hazel" Cemetery,
Which as I understand it, are also above Beech Springs Church. I plan to go there in the fall. My health has prevented me from getting there sooner. The road has not been maintained and it will be a hike to get there, 6 or 7 miles uphill. I am not in the best of shape, but still hope to make it. These are cemeteries where my ancestors are buried. We consider this sacred land just as the American Indians do their burial grounds.
As a representative of my family, we would like to legally reclaim our ancestor’s cemeteries. We would like to be able to reach them by road, and be able to maintain them. Some of us would like to be buried there alongside of our ancestors.
A letter I received (documentation provided upon request) from the Park regarding this states "The Park has never surveyed the cemeteries and does not have the capacity to do so in the future." I know for a fact that they surveyed Harold Woodward’s' family cemetery, and built a road to his family’s cemetery and even a parking lot.
In the letter, I was also referred to Reed Engle, who does not have a very good history of working with us.
Other issues of concern are:
2) Our artifacts, our oral histories and a proposed museum:
We would like a list of the artifacts the Shenandoah National Park has and we would like to access such artifacts. In some cases, items should be returned to the particular families they originated from.
It is my understanding that our oral histories have been sent to James Madison University. At any rate, we would like to know where they are, be able to access them and reclaim them also.
I believe Shenandoah National Park has an obligation to advise us where these things are and to allow us access to them, at the very least.
We feel our descendents were unique in their culture and history. We would like to see our ancestors and history represented in a museum at the Shenandoah National Park, perhaps near the Byrd Visitor Center.
3) Our ancestors gravesites overall are being allowed to crumble and deteriorate and the SNP has done nothing to memorialize ourancestors as a sacred part of it's history. Yet the CCC Boys are heralded as heroes of the SNP as are the "Skyland Women" when the COS' Annual Homecoming was not even mentioned at all in their Newsletter.
4) We would like Shenandoah National Park to acknowledge us by adding programs about Children of Shenandoah and listing us ontheir Calendar of Events. Additionally we would like authorship privileges on Shenandoah Overlook and SNP Visitor Guide as well on the SNP Web Site.
5) We would like for the WVPT special "The Iris Still Blooms" to be shown at the Byrd Visitor Center every half hour permanently, the same as The Former Gift was shown every half hour. Now the revised Gift is only shown upon request. We object to the name of the movie. It was not a gift to The Children of Shenandoah or our ancestors.
6) We hope to obtain lifetime passes for all of The Children of Shenandoah so we can freely roam where our ancestors once lived.
7) The rights to continue our family reunions on Skyline Drive without cost. It is my understand the CCC boys always getin for free.
Please write, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call (540) 635-7521. Anything you could do to help us in this would be greatly appreciated!
Carol P. Laing
Letter from Congressman Cantor
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